Apple is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, an insider told Reuters.
Project Titan, the iPhone maker’s automotive project, has treaded a rocky road since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers. Central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery design that could potentially reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range, issues that have plagued current self-driving car designs.
Making a vehicle represents a supply chain challenge even for Apple, a company with deep pockets that makes hundreds of millions of electronics products each year with parts from around the world, but has never made a car. Even tech pioneer, Elon Musk’s Tesla designs took about 17 years before it was finally able to turn a sustainable profit in the car making industry.
It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, and there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker.
However, insider sources have told Reuters that Apple has decided to tap outside partners for elements of the system, including “lidar” sensors, which help self-driving cars get a three-dimensional view of the road. Some sensors could be derived from Apple’s internally developed lidar units. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models released this year both feature lidar sensors.
As for the car’s battery, Apple plans to use a unique “monocell” design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack. That design means more active material can be packed inside the battery, giving the car a potentially longer range.